Igor Back, Stiletto Feet

Crazy. That’s what I was over the last few days. Why, you ask? Well, it was voluntary craziness, but that’s simply what you do to help out friends. That’s what friends do for me, and that’s what I do for friends.

My friends from the band “Checkpoint Charley” had a gig set for this past Saturday, opening for Jon Schmidt. Checkpoint Charley\'s regular keyboardist could not do it. And the guy they had lined up to do keyboards bailed a few days before. I used to play keyboards for them, and recorded their first CD with them, but no longer could help them when my Halloween project started to take all my time. (I highly recommend checking out their song, “Cardiac Arrest.” Terribly, terribly catchy. I think most of you will like it. And it’s the most fun for me to play, because they gave me free reign on making up keyboard parts.)

Every last minute of mine has been spent on getting my CD for this Halloween out the door – recording, mixing, CD-text-checking, etc. And I am exhausted. (It’s a good exhaustion, but exhaustion nonetheless.) So when Kevin, the lead singer, called on Wednesday night in a panic, I told him I wanted to help, but that I needed to think about it for 10 minutes. I had to just sit with my brain and check it to make sure I wasn’t insane. I didn’t want to load on another task and pop from the stress of it.

I called back and said yes, but that I couldn’t make the practice that night or Thursday, but I could run through the songs on Friday night. BUT THEN … Thursday morning, before I drove to Gaynor’s studio to work on my Halloween song mixes, my back went out. It was all of a sudden and I’ve been spending these past days hunched over like an old witch from a fairytale … want some candy, little boy???? Or like Igor. “YES, MASTER!”

We had a very, very short sound check before the show on Saturday, and just went for it. I haven’t played with them for two years, but … hooray for chord charts! It was an outdoor show, and the weather turned surprisingly freezing for an August night. My fingers were so icy, stiff, and DONE by the end of the set. (I don’t know how Jon does it, playing these outdoor, mountain-y venues in nighttime weather. Such a skilled dude.) We finished with a cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and that was fun. It’s so much fun to play with a whole band, especially drums. Mmmm … drums … mmmmmmm.

The other voluntary craziness some of you might scoff at, but I don’t care. I’m a girl, and I like high heels. Yes, my back was out and in pain, but I wore heels. That’s just what lady keyboardists do! At least this lady keyboardist does … except when I play the organ. I like playing the organ barefooted because I like the way the pedals feel under my bare feet. But that only works for German baroque literature. French romantic literature, on the other hand, requires that I wear my special organ shoes. There is too much legato craziness – it would pretty much just not work.

I could have pulled out the flip-flops for the gig on Saturday, but … come on … heels are just so put together. Yes, I’m 5 feet 9 inches, but I still love heels. I’m forever a California girl, so when I’m not wearing heels, I’m wearing flip-flops, but I didn’t want to look sloppy onstage. And I insisted on sitting down at the keyboard, so my back could handle it. (My back hasn’t gone out for years, so I hope it just finishes up already. Sheesh.)

My friends in “Checkpoint Charley” were very gracious to let me sell my CD from last year – “Arachnitect” – alongside theirs at the merch table. It’s been an interesting time, getting the word out about my Halloween Carols. Most people, when they think about Halloween music, probably think of tacky, spooky sound effects and cheap, synthesized organ sounds. So, promoting my music is an undertaking in confronting those mainstream thoughts.

I want to give Halloween the beauty and classiness that it deserves. It is a rich, intriguing, historical holiday and I don’t believe enough of us consider it such. AND IT’S COMING!!!! Here and there, I have felt little tendrils of autumn curling past my senses over the last few weeks. Happiness.

So, back to Gaynor’s studio tomorrow after an eventful weekend. Gaynor and I are in the last stages of mixing, so the CD is very close to being finished. I’m hoping to finish in two weeks. Cross fingers with me! And please tell friends! So many people are looking for nice Halloween music … help me find them! You can be the Trick-or-Treater who makes a difference in another Trick-or-Treater’s life!!! Remember when we were kids, and filled each other in on the “good neighborhoods” – the neighborhoods that gave out the king-size candy bars? Yes, it’s like that! Tell them to come to my porch. I’ll be handing out the GOOD goods.